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James D. Watson, PhD

James D. Watson, PhD

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Class of 2013

A renowned molecular biologist, teacher, and author, Dr. Watson is best known as the co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, for which he won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. First announced in early April 1953 by the director of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, the discovery went largely unnoticed until a paper reporting it appeared in the April 25, 1953, issue of Nature. Prominent biologists later described the finding as the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century.

Dr. Watson headed the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health from 1990 to 1992. In 2007, he became the second person to publish his personal fully sequenced genome online. Ahead of his time as usual, he said he did so to “encourage the development of an era of personalized medicine”, in which information contained in our genomes can be used to identify and prevent disease and to create individualized medical therapies. – He has written several highly regarded molecular biology textbooks and in 1968 published a personal account in The Double Helix, which became one of Modern Library ‘s 100 Best Nonfiction Books.

Career Highlights

2001 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences
2000 The Liberty Medal, National Constitution Center
1999 Honorary Member, AACR
1997 National Medal of Science, National Science Foundation
1994-2004 President, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
1993 Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London
1988-1992 Director, Human Genome Project, NIH
1971 John J. Carty Award in Molecular Biology, National Academy of Sciences
1975 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2002 Gairdner Foundation International Award
1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1960 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
1959 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry
1959 John Collins Warren Prize, Massachusetts General Hospital
1950 PhD, Indiana University, Bloomington